The Difference Between Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Are you wondering if that gift from your grandparents or the insurance payout you received needs to be reported on your taxes this year? Although the definition of income may seem straightforward, determining what is and isn't taxable can be tricky — especially for multiple sources of income beyond your standard salary.
Understanding the difference between taxable and nontaxable income is important when it comes to filing your federal, state, and local tax forms. If you over-report income, you could be paying too much in taxes, while under-reported income will leave you open to fines and penalties, or cause you to file an amended tax form. Getting your taxes right the first time around means fewer complications in the future.
Taxable income is subject to federal, state, or local tax, although there may be different requirements at each level. Taxable income typically includes salaries, wages, gambling winnings, tips, and unemployment compensation. Keep in mind that some income classified as taxable on your federal return may be subject to different rules on your state or local returns. For example, some states, like Florida, do not have a state tax on income.
Nontaxable income amounts are often specifically defined by the IRS. Although classified as nontaxable, some types of income in this category may still need to be reported on your tax returns. If reported correctly, these amounts will not be factored into your income tax calculation. Gifted amounts are an example of nontaxable income that still needs to be reported if they are over the annual exclusion threshold of $15,000 for 2018. Although you are covered under a lifetime exclusion of $11,180,000, you would still need to report the gift amount in excess of the annual exclusion on your tax return. Other types of income that are frequently nontaxable include worker's compensation, child support, and even cash rebates issued by manufacturers or dealers. Retirement contributions to a qualified retirement plan like a traditional 401(k) aren't taxed when you invest them in the plan, but you will need to pay taxes if you make any withdrawals.
Income That is Partially or Sometimes Taxable
Some types of income may span both categories depending on your individual tax situation. According to the IRS, life insurance, Social Security benefits, and fringe benefits are examples of types of income that you may or may not need to pay taxes on. A legal settlement is taxable if the amount awarded by the court covers lost pay but not an amount for costs related to personal injuries or illness.
Determining What's Taxable and Nontaxable Income
If you receive income from a new source and you aren't sure about the taxability, it makes sense to spend some time researching the tax rules. You can check the IRS website for a wealth of information or ask your tax advisor. If you use tax software, you may be able to find links to additional guidance or your tax forms will auto-fill to ensure proper reporting.
Be sure to check with your bank for more tips to help guide you through tax season.